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Authors: Paula Danziger

There's a Bat in Bunk Five

BOOK: There's a Bat in Bunk Five

As Corrine and I walk back up to the cabin, I ask Corrine what comes next.

“This camp has got to be cleaned up after the winter. We did it before we left last year, but there's always sweeping and stuff.”

Housework, actually, bunkwork.

We go back to the cabin. I sweep the floor, and Corrine gets the spider webs down.

I look down at a corner of the room. There are all of these tiny brown pellets.

“Corrine, what's this?” I call her over.

“Mouse turds,” she says.

I look at her, then realize she's not kidding around.

They really are mouse turds.

I think I'm going to throw up.

I wonder if bats make pellets too.

I feel like Dorothy in
The Wizard of Oz
, when she turns to her dog and realizes that she's far from home.

Well, Toto, I guess we're not in New Jersey


The Cat Ate My Gymsuit

The Divorce Express

It's an Aardvark-Eat-Turtle World

The Pistachio Prescription

There's a Bat in Bunk Five

This Place Has No Atmosphere

Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) LLC
375 Hudson Street
New York, New York 10014

USA * Canada * UK * Ireland * Australia
New Zealand * India * South Africa * China
A Penguin Random House Company

First published in the United States by Delacorte Press, 1980
Published by PaperStar Books, 1998
Published by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2006
This edition published by Puffin Books,
an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2014

Copyright © 1980 by Paula Danziger
Introduction copyright © 2014 by Ann M. Martin

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission.
You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Danziger, Paula.
There's a bat in bunk five.
Summary: On her own for the first time, 14-year-old Marcy tries to cope with the new people and situations she encounters while working as a counselor at an arts camp.
[1. Camping—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.D2394Th [Fic] 80-15581

Puffin Books ISBN: 978-1-101-66584-8


To the Weisses—

M. Jerry, Helen, Sharon, Frann, Eileen, and Michael

With love and laughter



Books by Paula Danziger

Title Page



A Note from Paula


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Special Excerpt from
The Cat Ate My Gymsuit


The school year was 1977–1978 and I was teaching eighth and ninth graders. Many of my students had come back from summer vacation talking about their experiences at camp.

Camp. It's the time when kids leave home, meet new people, try out new behavior.

That gave me an idea. Ever since
The Cat Ate My Gymsuit
was published in 1974, people had been asking me to write a sequel. What if I sent Marcy to camp?

The only problem was that my only experience at camp had been a disaster. (One week after I got there, my mother became camp nurse and brought along my little brother. So much for getting away!)

Help came at the laundromat when I noticed some people washing huge amounts of towels and clothes. I saw from their sweatshirts that they were from Mt. Tremper Lutheran Camp. Camp!!!!! Life was good! They invited me to visit, to take notes, to talk with campers and counselors.

The sequel got written.

CAT. BAT. People said that I should write a third book about Marcy and have her grow up and join the RAT race. I don't think so!

I'm happy with the two books about Marcy . . . and happy that new generations of readers continue to meet her and go to camp with her.

—Paula Danziger


If a Prince Charming or a Prince Semi-Charming came up to my door and said, “Rosie Wilson, you are the most beautiful, individualistic fourteen-year-old in the universe,” I certainly wouldn't slam the door in his face.

This is the first line of Paula Danziger's hilarious and moving
It's an Aardvark-Eat-Turtle World
. First lines fascinate me, and this one says a lot about Paula, her stories, and her characters. The author of over thirty titles for young adult readers, Paula was known for capturing her audience with her uncanny ability to tap into teenage psyches—to write realistically and unflinchingly about families, divorce, friendship, first love, insecurity, and injustice, and to do so with a wicked sense of humor. It's rare for a reader to find herself laughing out loud, then just a few sentences later, searching for tissues in order to wipe away tears. Paula courted difficult, sometimes controversial subjects; her self-effacing characters and her love of humor made her books compelling reading.

Paula herself was as memorable as any character she created. She made friends wherever she went and was passionate about them. Somehow each of us felt as if we were Paula's
friend. She was flamboyant and flashy. She tied colorful scarves around her head, wore as many oversize rings as possible on her fingers, and shopped with great joy for glittery sneakers and sequined purses. She liked video games and slot machines. She once managed to light one of her fake fingernails on fire. The first time I spent a weekend at her house, she offered me a breakfast of Coke, M&Ms, and Circus Peanuts.

Paula was a marvel of disorganization. I've never seen anything like the inside of her purse. It was a jumble of
loose bills and coins, receipts, lipstick cases, candy, lint, notebooks, keys. She frequently lost her keys, or thought she had, and a dramatic search would ensue before they were located, surprise, at the bottom of her purse. Her desk was worse, overflowing with larger items.

Yet out of this chaos sprang books that have resonated with readers for decades. Paula's first book,
The Cat Ate My Gymsuit
, was published in 1974. Thirteen-year-old Marcy, the protagonist, may wear panty hose, buy records for her stereo, and never have heard of cell phones, but it doesn't matter because she faces the same issues contemporary kids face:

All my life I've thought that I looked like a baby blimp with wire-frame glasses and mousy brown hair. Everyone always said that I'd grow out of it, but I was convinced that I'd become an adolescent blimp with wire-frame glasses, mousy brown hair, and acne.

Marcy's story continues in
There's a Bat in Bunk Five
when she experiences her first love while at summer camp:

This thing with Ted isn't a crush. . . . What if I let myself start to care and get hurt? I'm not sure I can survive a broken heart. I get hurt so easily anyway, so I've never let myself get too close to a guy, not that there have been that many opportunities. I'm scared. What if it turns into a real relationship and it's as bad as my parents' marriage?

The Pistachio Prescription
Paula tackles divorce as Cassie Stephens's family begins to crumble. In later books, other characters face the aftermath of divorce, but this story chronicles the Stephenses' slide from dysfunctional, a theme Paula visits often, to separation. In a scene from the beginning of the book, Cassie visits her friend Vicki:

We sit down with her parents. Nobody fights at the Norton house. At least not while I'm there. Vicki says that they do
fight sometimes, but that it's psychologically healthy to air feelings honestly. I don't know if my family does it honestly, but if awards were given on the basis of yelling, we'd win the Mental Health Award of the century. I guess we'd probably be disqualified, though, on the basis of lack of sanity.

I smiled when I read that paragraph. But later the tone of the story changes:

[My father] walks over. “Cassie, I'm sorry it didn't work out. I guess your mother's right. There's no use pretending we can get along. It's over and that's all there is to it.”

That's all.

As simple as that.

Three kids.

A broken-up family.

Yet the ending is hopeful. Cassie realizes her family may not be the one she wishes for, but that she'll survive.

Rearrange the letters in the word PARENTS and you get the word ENTRAPS
. This's how
The Divorce Express
begins. Four years after the publication of
The Pistachio Prescription
Paula writes about Phoebe, who shuttles between her father's home in Woodstock, New York, and her mother's home in New York City. Travel is the least of Phoebe's concerns, though. Now her parents are seeing other people:

Maybe I'm a prude, but I don't like to think about my parents having sex with anyone but each other

Phoebe analyzes the stages parents go through when they get divorced:

. . .
the fighting and anger—then the distance—and making me feel caught in the middle. After the divorce they try to be “civilized.” I know that there were even times that they missed each other. I know for a fact that after the divorce they even slept with each other once in a while. It was confusing. Now they act like people who have a past history together, but only a future of knowing each other because of me

By the end of
The Divorce Express
, Phoebe's father has fallen in love with the mother of Rosie, Phoebe's new best friend, and their story continues in
It's an Aardvark-Eat-Turtle World
, told from Rosie's point of view. All Rosie wants is a happy family, but Phoebe doesn't make that easy. Furthermore, Rosie, who's biracial, faces issues that Phoebe can't fathom, and once again, Paula writes candidly about a sensitive subject, illustrated in this scene when Rosie goes on a date with a boy who's white:

While we look at each other, some guy comes up and says with hate, “Why don't you stick to your own kind?”

I can't believe it.

He repeats what he's just said.

Jason turns to him. “We are the same kind—human. You're the one who isn't our kind. You're scum.”

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